7. Something your company needs that doesn’t exist. Many of the best startups happened when someone needed something in their work, found it didn’t exist, and quit to build it. This is vaguer than most of the other recipes here, but it may be the most valuable. You’re working on something you know customers want, because you were the customer. And if it was something you needed at work, other people will too, and they’ll be willing to pay for it.
So if you’re working for a big company and you want to strike out on your own, here’s a recipe for an idea. Start this sentence: “We’d pay a lot if someone would just build a …” Whatever you say next is probably a good product idea.
My Idea – PrioritizeThis
Man, if I’m going to make it through all 30 of these, I need to start strategizing a bit more! The real answer to this question is YCC Idea #4 – Instant CMS, and yesterday’s idea fits this mold as well. But, luckily for me, I participated in a two hour team meeting this morning and we went over our annual employee poll results – how perfect is that?!? A couple of interesting issues came up during the conversation, but here’s one that I think is fairly universal. It’s an issue of prioritization, and as we went through each specific problem area from the poll, I started to realize how many issues mapped back to this one. Work/Life balance? Work with your manager to prioritize your tasks. Cross-group collaboration? Work with the exec team to prioritize which groups to focus on.
My idea is basically a to-do list that is shared between two people – an employee and their manager. The employee can use this list to track their daily or weekly activities. Not only would the manager be informed of everything that each of their direct reports are working on, they can take the opportunity to give a simple high/med/low priority rating to each activity. As a result, the employee can then use this as a guide for them to determine how to best manage their time.
What’s in it for the employee?
- Better understanding of what’s truly important to their managers
- Good way to “manage up” and inform their manager of all the great things they are working on
- Early detection of potential work/life balance issues that can drive a fact-based discussion with manager (i.e. “Ummm…are all 25 of these things really high priority?”)
What’s in it for the manager?
- Easy to track and influence day-to-day activities without resorting to micro-management
- Scalable process for managing multiple activities across a large team
- Ability to drive higher productivity by ensuring that the daily employee activities are aligned with strategic goals
- Consistent historical view of employee’s past activities for performance reviews
A couple of other features could include the ability to roll up multiple levels (i.e. group manager’s activities roll up to org VP), exec-level reporting functionality, ability to add additional fields (i.e. estimated time of completion, comments, employee’s perceived priority), and integration with company mail system (i.e. Outlook plug-in, Notes module).
OK – I need help! My family is coming to town this week and I’ll be offline all day Friday – anyone want to try their hand at a guest post? Friday’s idea will be based around #10 on Paul’s list, a new approach to online auctions. Anyone interested? Shoot me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .